Armagh have to be in Tipp top form
It is indicative of how the football landscape has changed of late that Armagh do not find themselves bracketed as odds-on favourites to overcome Tipperary in the National Football League tomorrow in Crossmaglen.
The Orchard County’s perceived standing would be much higher than that of a county more noted for its hurling prowess but this is perhaps based more on past performance rather than current form.
The fact that Tipperary have won one, drawn one and lost the remaining one of their last three games by a solitary point provides ample evidence that John Evans’ side will test Paddy O’Rourke’s men to the full in a Division Two encounter which could have important ramifications for both sides.
Victory would ensure the hosts remain in the promotion frame while a Tipperary success would considerably ease their relegation fears.
O’Rourke has already made it abundantly clear that he expects a much improved display from his side following their dismal offering against Down last Saturday during which they lost by seven points.
“We have the chance to get back on track here and we must grasp it. We allowed Down to boss the match last Saturday to an embarrassing extent,” maintains O’Rourke.
Ciaran McKeever is expected to have recovered from the thigh strain that led to him being substituted in that game while Charlie Vernon will get more game time and Finian Moriarty is available even though he was sent off last weekend having incurred two yellow cards.
Ryan Henderson and Stefan Forker both had unproductive outings in the Armagh attack against Down and could find the Tipperary rearguard in uncompromising mood. Steven McDonnell has been Armagh’s outstanding forward by some distance this year and with adequate possession he could thrive again tomorrow.
Visiting teams have invariably discovered that ‘fortress Crossmaglen’ can be a difficult venue from which to emerge with points but Tipperary are singularly unfazed by the task they face.
Manager Evans says: “We are happy with our recent performances even though they may not quite have brought us the number of points we would have liked.
“Armagh have a great reputation at home and this will be a tough challenge for us but we will relish it just the same.”